The nine-block area bounded by Montgomery Street, Washington Street, Stockton Street, and Broadway became known as the Barbary Coast during the Gold Rush era of San Francisco, when the neighborhood was decidedly less civilized than it is today. Destroyed by the 1906 earthquake, the area was totally rebuilt and re-envisioned through the years and is now one of the most polished neighborhoods in the city. The Financial District, as it’s now known, is a bustling commercial center filled with historic banks, upscale apartments, and condominiums, and some of the tallest buildings in the city—including the skyline-defining Transamerica Pyramid.

The neighborhood also serves as corporate headquarters for such companies as Visa, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, and Gap. Those who live here enjoy some of the best restaurants the city has to offer, including the delicious ethnic eateries within the blocks of nearby Chinatown and North Beach (the city’s Little Italy). Day-to-day needs may be found at nearby Embarcadero Center, at the Ferry Building Marketplace, and in the many department stores, malls, and shopping blocks throughout Union Square. For rest and relaxation, several public green spaces such as Jackson Square Park and Transamerica Redwood Park provide respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown living. And when residents need to get to other parts of the city or Bay Area, the Embarcadero station is just steps away. ©2016 Maryann LoRusso

Transamerica Redwood Park is a serene public space dotted redwood trees, benches, and a fountain honoring Mark Twain.

Transamerica Redwood Park is a serene public space dotted redwood trees, benches, and a fountain honoring Mark Twain.

A great gathering place in the heart of the downtown area, nearby Union Square is a 2.6-acre public plaza bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets.

A great gathering place in the heart of the downtown area, nearby Union Square is a 2.6-acre public plaza bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a restored 1898 space filled with local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to cheese, coffee and bread. 

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a restored 1898 space filled with local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to cheese, coffee and bread. 

A commercial complex of five office towers and two hotels, the Embarcadero Center is also home to an array of specialty shops and restaurants, and is the site of a holiday ice-skating rink.

A commercial complex of five office towers and two hotels, the Embarcadero Center is also home to an array of specialty shops and restaurants, and is the site of a holiday ice-skating rink.

Formerly part of the city’s Red Light district, Maiden Lane is now home to high-end boutiques and art galleries.

Formerly part of the city’s Red Light district, Maiden Lane is now home to high-end boutiques and art galleries.

Encompassing the northeastern part of the former Barbary Coast, Jackson Square is home to upscale art galleries and interior-design businesses.

Encompassing the northeastern part of the former Barbary Coast, Jackson Square is home to upscale art galleries and interior-design businesses.

San Francisco’s version of “Little Italy,” North Beach is overflowing with Italian restaurants, coffee shops and markets.

San Francisco’s version of “Little Italy,” North Beach is overflowing with Italian restaurants, coffee shops and markets.

The largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest Chinatown in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the city’s top tourist attractions.

The largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest Chinatown in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the city’s top tourist attractions.

Kokkari serves up Taverna-inspired cuisine in a candlelit, wood-beamed dining room that lures a chic crowd.

Kokkari serves up Taverna-inspired cuisine in a candlelit, wood-beamed dining room that lures a chic crowd.

The former home of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, the Bently Reserve on Battery Street is an example of the fashionable Streamline Moderne architectural style of the late 1920s and early ’30s.

The former home of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, the Bently Reserve on Battery Street is an example of the fashionable Streamline Moderne architectural style of the late 1920s and early ’30s.

The Embarcadero BART station acts as a major hub for passenger movement throughout the Bay Area.

The Embarcadero BART station acts as a major hub for passenger movement throughout the Bay Area.